Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Sweden still surprises me

The dark, grey days are upon us, and I'm telling myself "It's not time to hibernate, you don't need sunlight, you don't need sunlight. . ."
The working day in Sweden often starts at 8 a.m. and the fact that the sun rises after this meant my 'all things garden-related- tuned' ears brought me to take a look out the window when I heard the whir of a lawn-mower. It's hum was steadily getting louder and then quieter as it was going up and down, clipping the last blades of growth of 2011. I was amazed at the punctuality of the gardener and the feeling of just-getting-on-with-it even before I'd got myself properly dressed. I was particularly amazed that anyone mows lawns with the headlights on on their grass-cutting tractor in the semi-darkness! But then most of Sweden would look a bit rough around the edges come Autumn time, and that would just not do!

It's half-term hols now, although I've got more than usual to do on the writing front. The elder two went to the archive centre today where they had detective activities for kids. I'd forgotten all about micro-fiches which DH had tried in vain to explain to the older ladies working there that they should be replaced with something digital!
H is still ill, with a chest infection. The doctor described it as bronchial pnenomia which sounds much more serious. H turned out to be allergic to the penicillin he was prescribed (about 7 quid, doesn't it cost 50 p to make or something?) and another 10 quid on the new antibiotics. Rant over.
 Alhamdulillah we have cures like these.
Hz has been adamntly refusing to go to the childminder-- it makes it harder when the boys are off school. But how people with 3 year olds hold down even a a part-time job is beyond me. But that is what the majority of Swedish women do--Hz, despite his Swedish citizenship, is not going to bow to these societal pressures!

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Cute phrases 2011

I am supposed, as a would-be writer, to write every day. Well, it's not been happening on this blog obviously, but the above is a typical view of my weekday mornings. (The Sweet peas are still coming, although not in such abundance).
Anyhow, here's a collection of utterances I've gathered from my big, dark blue week to page diary which is trying to organise my life (and not quite succeeding). I try to write them down as soon as I hear them as I'll never rember them otherwise. Does this count as my daily writing?  I have learned that this blog, and most others, can now be nobly called  a piece of Creative Non-fiction. That does sound posh, doesn't it!

M had some grammar homework involving superlatives. Biryani logically extended it to:”table, tabler, tablest.”!

For some reason she’d been talking quite a bit about death—I was “only a little bit old.”

She plays the game on ‘Martha Speaks’ website—“They know what ‘ex-aasted’ means and you don’t”
B --“angry, feel like you’re worried about something”
Was that ‘exasperated’, or ‘exhausted’ in a US accent? should check what my kids do online more often!

We are playing a game
me -“you’re wasting your time” (I don’t recall why I said this!)
B-“I don’t have any time, only if I hold the timer I do.”

He had lost his boot and straight away announced:” can’t find it anywhere.”
As if he’d really been looking everywhere for it, my foot!

Hz’s mispronunciations:
“I got a i lossy”-- Ice lolly
“Wishwasher” --Dishwasher
“Weewok” --Ewok (Star Wars)

Biryani made some instructions on how to make a stop sign: ’HOW TOO MEAC STOP SEIN’

I hope this post makes some sense. I've been called away to a bathing situation and so I'll just press publish.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

I give in, Summer has gone

OK, it’s officially Autumn. Not because it's been less than 10C for five days in a row, but because I have carried out the biannual Cellar Mission. I have delved, cast aside things I never will understand why we kept, and hauled up dust-smelling carrier bags full of musty jackets and cheesy boots. I hope and pray there are a few pairs of matching gloves to be found when I work myself up to the next stage: getting the kids to actually try the winter attire on.

Thursday, September 01, 2011

I'm allowed to Home Educate in Sweden....

Myself, that is! I've just started an online Uni course in Creative Writing (in English)- no compulsory attendance, no need for social training (I'm supposed to have passed that unit by now, I assume)
So there you have it, home education is allowed in Sweden, as long as you have done your 9 years school-duty first.

 It's actually a pretty enjoyable course, no rights or wrongs really. This used to put me off English in a way, maths was either right or wrong and so less 'mysterious'. Now I've overcome that, may be through looking at education through different spectacles.
And if anyone's interested, if you're from the EU it's free and can be done entirely online- I think the basic requirement may be English GCSE, although maybe any A-level done in the English language. I got on with my British Uni degree, but they kept asking me for evidence of my A-levels done in the UK. (the Swedes who apply have to have an Advanced level in English (typically achieved at the end of sixth form college)- but that's not he same as a British A-level English, that's why I wrote about GCSE English being enough).

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Ramadhan 2011

This year I'm feeling the bigger boys are more involved in Ramadhan. Admittedly my general motivation levels have been on empty recently so I'm not talking about crafty activities. We tried to make some written goals at the start, and S wanted to fast the whole of Ramadhan and so far has managed with hardly a moan. M has also put up a good effort, but we have stopped him today as tempers seem to fray with his decrease in blood sugar level- which is contrary  to the point of fasting. H kept reminding him 'Are you fasting or starving?' adding to the general winding up that always happens in this house... He's been doing the 'chiri' sparrow fast, meaning until around lunchtime.
But the memories I hope they keep of their early Ramadhans, are of being out late at night to go to the masjid, or at sunrise coming back. It must be exciting being out at 4 am- but a little too exciting, as not for the first time, our car has been followed by an umarked police car. Maybe it's us living in a relatively 'white' area, or that our British car makes it look like S is driving/ joy-riding!

Friday, July 15, 2011

Nothing special going on...

 These were some flowers I noticed at the park by the funfair earlier in the Summer, and I'd forgotten to upload them- they are rather stunning.

 As opposed to these 2 peaks, Mount Washmore and Mont Foldme- do you have piles like this forming, approximately 4 times a week?

The Summer has taken some leave, and we have had somewhat autumnal weather, with heavy rain and gusty winds. I am actually quite pleased as
1. I don't have to go and water the allotment.
2. I don't have to feel that I'm commiting a crime not going out in the beautiful weather when I really just want to wallow about at home.

The first three weeks of the hols was taken up with the swimming school.  H did enjoy it and was quite keen to go. Biryani, on the other hand, took a few steps into the water on her first lesson, and that was it. Not going in. Full stop. I couldn't bring myself to force her to go in, what with her tearful eyes and frozen rabbit-in-headlights look. So we went home. This is where having two parents is an advantage. DH had other ideas and so he was in charge of taking them to the next swimming lesson. She did go in, still reluctantly, and then we manged to change the time to the group for younger children. She enjoyed going to this group where they played games, and talked about what games they had played before they had come to the lesson. By the third week, she was saying 'Hurry up we'll be late!'.
So if it had been down to me, I would've just given up until next year. Sometimes it is good to have another opinion.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer hols- still lots to do locally

Biryani and M help out making the potato salad- made totally (save mayonnaise and black pepper) of allotment harvest- new potatoes, chives, and onion.
Here is where they get to cool off when we don't get to the beach/ pool/ water playground; a cheapo, tincy pool. Admittedly, the hose plus attachment, usually reserved for watering the plants, was the most entertaining. Well, who doesn't like making rainbows, or your sister scream by spraying her back with cold water?!

Yes! Biryani can now swing (without needing to be pushed). She happily swings back and forth for ages, and so trips to the park are much more entertaining for her nowadays.(The same cannot be said for indoor activities. The phrase 'I'm bored!' pops out almost every ten minutes.)
She wants to play a game with me (as she has no sisters, she complains, and I am a more worthy subsitute than any of the brothers). But it cannot be just any old game; it has to be one she's never played before. The same goes for computer games, which means the computer is not such an easy thing to keep her occupied while I make a phone call/ cook dinner/ have a shower etc! We must head to the main library which has board games you can borrow...(books, they're old hat, you know)

and the boys jump about in the forest playground, found in the middle of suburbia- fun!
So only 6 weeks of hols left- we've had 3 and a half already- what shall we do?

Friday, June 24, 2011

The allotment and it's produce

These photos are about a month old, and needless to say, it's a lot greener now. I'll try to do some more up to date ones soon. It does really show how things grow so fast, much like baby photos. I was thinking how plants (i.e. weeds) and  children have something in common: the untidiness they incessantly create. We love them though don't we? (the children, I mean!).

Some good news and some bad

Don't worry it's not so bad!
Yesterday I got the good news that a dear of friend has a new addition to the family, and now joins me in the madness joy of having 5 children.
And the bad, I received my first fästing (tick) bite. I was examining my knee for some reason and came across quite a fat one lodged in the side of my leg. I then tried to pull it out with tweezers.  It wriggled, I shrieked, and I had to wake up DH so he could remove it while I squeezed my eyes tight. I'm sure it was easier than giving birth, but it needed a good tug. A mouthpart is still in and I just have to wait a few weeks for it to grow out errgh!
Well this is one of the downsides of living in Sweden, insects that want to eat you.
How the tick got there I don't know, as I was all covered up, obviously, when I went out the day before. It's tuck your socks in your trousers time!
I was going to add a photo, but they were all too creepy on Google images, so look if you dare!
Must go, one of the boys has decided to hoover the living room, without me asking?!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Hz, oh Hz

Hz has been starting to see order in things these last few months. Unfortunately this does not translate into orderliness in terms of toys being put away (he's brilliant at it at dagmamma), or shoes being put on the shoe rack.
Today was the ultimate in 'testing-moments of parenthood'. WARNING-do not read whilst eating.
Hz, who still insists in using a nappy for number 2's, went off to his usual corner to make use of the fresh nappy, and fiddle with M's Prince of Persia figures. For some of us certain over the counter medicines are required, but apparently a good fiddle with Lego helps things along. Anyway, I had been thinking that a nappy hadn't been filled for a couple of days now. I was frying a second burger for S (growing lad) when Hz came up to me to request I sort his nappy out. The urgency in his voice made me back down on making him wait while I finished the cooking. The nappy couldn't take it, and so the floor had to. So with all the rushing to the bathroom, screams at everyone not to walk in the hall, DH arriving back with H, momentarily terrified as to why I was screaming like a lunatic, I tried to sort out Hz, whilst simultaneously directing everyone to clear up/ stay out of the poo all over the floors. So this is bad enough, and then I smell burning and realise the burger is burnt to a cinder and S is trying to rescue it. I run to the kitchen, ignoring my own warnings and step right in IT.
Don't worry, I've come to expect these sort of situations, but this was a bit of a classic.
And so why wasn't I surprised when about an hour later, Hz  announced he had a tummy ache, and proceeded to vomit all over me.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Spring memories

 This is not my allotment. The owner either has forgotten to come and weed or actually likes dandelions. I am trying not to feel smug, as I seem to have overcome the worst of these 'lions-teeth' this year.
In fact, although they are considered a weed and hinder the growth of  plants you really want, they are an amazing creation. The fluffy seeds make such a perfect shape:

and out in our park, the young ones decide to make a pretend fire
 and there's been a fair bit of tree climbing, and cherry blossom confetti-making, accompanied by a neighbour's son.
That's my phone photos, next up, next up fathoming out the camera leads etc.

Good teaching doesn't mean good learning

Another interesting article if you can understand the Google translate. Some researchers,headed by an American neuroscientist basically did some experiments and found that college students taught by researchers  inexperienced at teaching learnt more than those taught by experienced teachers. Also study techniques where the students test themselves came out tops
'What is felt that good teaching need not necessarily be the best way to learn'

I am not surprised..

Swedish kids learn more English outside of school than in the lessons, according to this article .
(Google translate mistranslated a sentence, it should be 'the school is not good at exploiting' .  
I expect if they look at a lot of the Maths e.g. money, division (sharing) they will find a similar result!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

I know it's a been a while..

but the quest to obtain the appropriate wire to upload my photos from the camera, or to install the right driver to get photos off my new phone is dragging on. I am not good at writing blog posts without some visual reminders of what's been going on in this neck of the woods. So here is a photo sent to me by email from DH's phone, showing the progress of the work he's currently doing trying to make the allotment 'rabbit-proof'.
One side was easy to dig but this has lots of roots so needed a pick axe. Next some wood has to be placed in the trench so the lil' bunnies can't burrow under the fence. Well I hope this works, otherwise the other allotment holders recommend just planting extra so that you have some left after the rabbits have had their fill.
Last year they came in but didn't appear to eat anything, but then it was mostly weeds and I have heard before that they don't go for lettuces, which was the most successful crop. However I want to grow Kale and other brassicas this year so a fort knox approach is needed methinks.
Today harvested the first of the baby spinach which was as good as shop bought, and at about £2.50 a box made me feel it was worthwhile. Spinach is to be added to the 'gardening-for-dummies' list, along with radishes, mint, chives and lettuces. We also picked a few radishes although they were a little small. The potatoes are looking healthy so I hope to have some new potatoes with mint by midsummer inshaAllah. This is where photos would have been a plus..
Yesterday we had the annual 'KalvinKnatet' running race where hundreds of kids in Skåne run approximately 1500m, all receiving a medal, T-Shirt and chocolate milk (this is sponsored mainly by the region's dairy). H and M did their best and came somewhere in the middle. One of H's friends came around number 7 which is very impressive, mashaAllah.
Hz almost potty trained- just no.2's to go- he insists on having a new nappy on for this-aargh.
S is a teenager soon- aah teenagers and a two year old within the same four walls. Having a chuckle at this!

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

quick one before I pick up the little ones

Nowadays there is just always something pressing that means blogging is just not happening.
The allotment is coming on, with nearly all the beds cleared and plants like spinach actually flourishing. It's become a little chilly here so holding out on planting out many of the window sill occupants, much to the rest of the family's disappointment.
On another note, the other day S handed me back a book I'd got out for him from the library, barely read, plus an article on his namesake that I'd printed out ages ago. I noticed that the printout was on the back of some old Uni maths handouts of DH, and when I inadvertantly mentioned it to S, he became engrossed. It shows that you can only give them the opportunity to experience other genres and topics, but in the end they'll find their own way.

The things they say: Biryani: 'threeth' = third

Saturday, April 09, 2011

The unstoppable artist

Not a day goes by, it seems, without Biryani putting pen to paper in one form or another. You would think she would have tired of drawing, painting, or colouring by now. But no, it is her most favourite occupation, and her way of expressing herself. She often draws herself drawing something, so you see a picture of her hand with a pen in it. If something has upset her she will draw almost a story of the event and a picture of a face with downturned eyebrows and a mouth, showing her anger.
 Her favourite theme, of course, is ‘Princesses’ and her continued persistence in all things ‘girly’ never ceases to amaze me, what with the male-dominated atmosphere at our place.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

So Biryani isn't just memorising books

Biryani was in a very kind mood and actually carried out my suggestion to read poor, ill S, a story. She read a 'Spot' book straight through, and I thought maybe she'd memorised it. Then I tried her with some basic 'Kathy and Mark' books, similar to Peter and Jane . I was quite shocked, she read some books from the first two levels almost error-free and managed level 3 with a bit of help. By this time S had dropped off to sleep, much needed and Biryani was as pleased with herself as I was. I think my surprise comes after having gone through 3 boys learning to read. However they all get there in the end, don't they?

Friday, March 11, 2011

Get your jam and cream ready- it's a waffle!

Things are moving on and I haven't really been so much into blogging recently for one reason or another. My original motivation for blogging was as a record of how the kids grew up and developed, and true, it has been fun to re-read things and feel reassured that the 'bad' times pass. What seems like a problem that will never be resolved actually has it's place for that point in time, and is not actually going to last forever. Where the past is reassuring and the future so much an unknown, I'm trying to concentrate more on the present moment, as really that is all you can be in control of to a certain extent.
Anyhow, nowadays it seems like S is all grown up, out the door before I even get up and even the older 2 are getting themselves ready, only needing the odd reminder to get their P.E. kit ready. They now go on the bus in the mornings too, as the little ones (especialy Hz) are usually reluctant to go to the childminder's and so it all gets a bit stressful to have to be at school at a specific time. As it happens the school bus can only come at quite a late time and they usually miss the first lesson, but they seem to manage.
I have a separate post on Biryani that I started a while back, if only I can get my photos sorted out- the gadget for my phone to upload them to the computer has gone missing, and our 'new' camera- well I haven't got round to figuring that out yet-of course.
S is into origami ninja stars at the moment- I can't remember the proper name just now- but it's amazing what they can learn from YouTube!
And the garden, oh Spring, where are you? It snowed/ hailed/ sleeted today and really the poor grass is anything but green. My leek seeds are growing well and do have a fresh, almost fluorescent green colour. Let's hope they avoid destruction by young'uns. One has already been 'pruned' by Biryani's curious fingers, and M looked like he was compelled and could not resist touching them!
M, H and Biryani are now having a 'fest' - party, well it is Friday- Jumaah- and really it's just an excuse to eat too much junk. They wrote and illustrated invitations for each other - very sweet.
Today was the first proper day of potty training for Hz- he did quite well really- but had the familiar problem of not wanting to do no.2's in the pot- demanding to have a nappy on. He likes to go somewhere out of sight to empty the ol' bowels - don't we all?! Now I shall try and find some posts on Biryani's endeavours to become nappy-free. Although it doesn't seem so long since we were going through it, I can never remember the details (some sort of survival mechanism for mother's of more than one child?!).

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Sorry, no pics..

I mean to blog and then the tedious bit of uploading photos just gets in the way. Plus my new phone's camera is actually not much good so I often have no photo- shooting apparatus to hand.
So try and use your imagination as much as you can, although for the next paragraph I'd give it a miss.

Illness strikes
Well, it's been rather like a scene from a Florence Nightingale movie around here, with much measuring of medicine and rushing around with sick buckets. M and Hz are well but the cries of 'I feel hot' and 'I feel cold' are oft-repeated by the others, and 'I'm hungry' - but every suggestion of food is not what they feel like. So such is life in early February...

Soil Obsession
On a positive note the weather warmed up enough to get one trench dug in the allotment for the runner beans, and I managed to aquire some well-rotted manure through some contacts, although they didn't have so much spare. It has covered one bed so either one crop is going to have to be prioritised or I'll have to make a trip to another contact (this stuff seems to be like gold-dust here. Most of the stables have only the fresh, smelly stuff before sending it off in a container to the dump), or lastly, buy some.

Social Skills- 2 year-old style
Hz has started being v reluctant to go to the childminder's, saying 'I want to go home'. He's probably been thinking it much of the time but can finally enunciate it clearly enough for us to understand. He's quite a chatterbox, the other day looking out the window at some neighbours and tried desperately to communicate with them:
I don't think they were ignoring him, I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, we have double glazing.
And today he sat down next to poor, ill Biryani and suggested they read a story. But the book?:
'Can't find it anywhere!' was his next conclusion. I'm not sure where that came from as he hadn't moved an inch to try and find it.

Point of no Return
This being child number 5 you would think I'd learnt a thing or two along the way, especially about sleep. However there is a special time of day, sometime between 4 and 6.30 p.m which all of my children have found to be a good time for a nap, and a resulting in a negative result for the parents' sanity. At this time they are so tired that trying to stop them sleep can be futile, it has got past the point of no return. But it is too early obviously for starting the sleep for the night. I came across a mother when I was working who had her children all ready for bed at 4.30 p.m but this was extremely early and I dread to think what time they woke up. This doesn't happen every day but on a regular enough basis to make quiet evenings seem like a luxury. But I try not to stress too much about it, it's a stage, like everything.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

This is a long Winter

Activities outside are still limited. I know the childminder takes them out most days but the sultry, grey skies and chilly wind hardly beckon me outside. Biryani decided to measure many things , including Mr Teddy, with my tape measure, the other day. Her feet are only a little longer than Hz's despite there being 2 years between them.

However the temperature outside has been veering upwards to a heady 4 or 5 degrees recently which got me thinking that digging trenches for the runner beans might be possible. The temperature, however, went back down to around zero by the time I got organised to go up to the allotment so I was only able to tidy up a bit and mend a bit of the fence - digging is impossible. I had spotted some rabbit droppings so this was just as well, especially as inshaAllah I'll attempt to grow some Brassicas this year (Brussel Sprouts).
I also took the opportunity to take some 'before' pictures. Here's hoping the 'after' pictures are not showing how well my weeds have progressed!

and finally an equally sombre-coloured picture, showing the numerous, large piles of dirty snow, collected and dumped around the city. There's just so much of the stuff that they are to be found all over the place.
I'm feeling like Spring should be here already, having had snow since November, but I do have to remember that we still have at least 2 more months of Winter, and that gardening (or not being able to do it) can be a test of patience.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Asalamoaleykum, Peace be on you, Hej!

We are back to civilization, back home (!) to Sweden. To my surprise, our recent trip to the UK, after such a long time, made me realize I had become accustomed to the peace and quiet (some would say 'dullness') of small-town Sweden. Even if the greeting is monosyllabic, you do not have sudden attacks of claustrophobia, be it in the streets or in the shops. The roads have far much more snow. but no-one's skidding about.
My flat on the other hand, has become a disaster on top of a disaster as the contents of our people carrier were unloaded. Bags of tea bags and dirty washing engulfed the place, and then some virus decided to overwhelm me, and it's been a slow process getting the floors just about clear. The children are glad to be back, with their internet and TV. They did have some good times and met up with friends, some who were babies when we last met in the UK. I noticed how the written English just in the general environment/ ads etc is a part of learning and which if course they have missed here (and have Swedish instead). M is still talking partly in a Yorkshire accent and they managed to mind their P's and Q's in front of relatives.
So I've been in bed trying to ignore everything buzzing around me, and unsubscribing from loads of email lists to inshaAllah free up my inbox a little.
Once I've got rid of this virus I hope this year can get going with a bit of organization, decluttering and growth, inshaAllah. Getting away, it's great for getting a bit of perspective!